US lawsuit against Qatari emir’s brother expanded

US lawsuit against Qatari emir’s brother expanded
Sheikh Khaled Al-Thani’s Massachusetts race car company, Al-Anabi Racing LLC, has been included in the US lawsuit to compel him to ‘accept legal service.’ (Supplied)
Updated 29 October 2019

US lawsuit against Qatari emir’s brother expanded

US lawsuit against Qatari emir’s brother expanded
  • US lawsuit now includes his Massachusetts race car company, Al-Anabi Racing LLC
  • Florida attorney Rebecca Castaneda has accused Sheikh Khaled Al-Thani of hiding and ‘evading service’

A US lawsuit accusing Qatari royal Sheikh Khaled Al-Thani of threatening to kill two former American employees has been expanded to include his Massachusetts race car company, Al-Anabi Racing LLC.

The lawsuit alleges Al-Thani tried to force his two security officers who are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Matthew Pittard and Matthew Allende, to kill two critics who posted negative and embarrassing comments about the sheikh on social media.

Filed by Florida attorney Rebecca Castaneda, the lawsuit accuses Al-Thani of hiding and “evading service.” Adding Al-Anabi Racing to the lawsuit could make it harder for Al-Thani to continue to hide from the lawsuit.

“This case, as in any case in the United States judicial system, progresses with or without the defendants choosing to actively engage or participate. Depositions, subpoenas, evidence gathering; it waits for no one. We have discovered through additional evidence obtained that Al-Anabi Racing USA LLC is a proper defendant in this case,” Castaneda said.

Al-Thani, the brother of Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, is a playboy celebrity race car driver who competes around the world through Al-Anabi Racing. Forcing Al-Thani to “accept legal service” would require him to appear before the Federal Court and to provide a detailed deposition.

Castaneda argued in a legal filing last week that Al-Thani has been hiding and “evading service,” and she requested more time to serve the legal documents to Al-Thani or to his legal representatives.

Failure to “serve” a defendant could result in a lawsuit being tossed from the courts. Since Al-Thani owns Al-Anabi Racing, serving the company could satisfy the legal requirements of serving its owner, Al-Thani.

Once Al-Thani is served, if he fails to appear before the Federal Court, Federal Judge Thomas P. Barber could rule against him, imposing fines, penalties and judgments. Pittard and Allende are seeking $33 million in the lawsuit against the Qatari ruler’s brother, accusing him not only of threatening their lives but also damaging their ability to work.

Castaneda also expanded the original lawsuit, which was filed in July 23, 2019, to include 18 of Al-Thani’s name aliases. Castaneda said that Al-Thani has used different variations of his name on businesses, bank accounts and property that he owns.

Castaneda argued in the amended lawsuit filed on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, “Further, evidence in this case (bank records, legal filings, Government of Qatar documents, information available to the general public) identifies Defendant Khalid as utilizing different versions of his formal legal name, both with and without his royal title, including HH Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al-Thani, Khalid Hamad Al-Thani, Khalid Al-Thani, Khalid Al-Thani, Khalid bin Hamad Al-Thani, Khalid bin Hamad Al-Thani, Sheikh Khalid Al-Thani, Sheikh Khalid Al-Thani, Khalid bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al-Thani, Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.”

The lawsuit identifies 21 variations of Al-Anabi Racing, including Al-Anabi Racing USA LLC. A telephone call to Al-Anabi Racing’s offices at 27 Pill Hill Lane in Duxbury, Massachusetts went unanswered. Al-Anabi Racing sponsored five cars at last year’s National Hot Rod Racing Association (NHRA) Pro Mod races.

Also named as defendants in the original lawsuit are Al-Thani’s company Geo Strategic Defense Solutions LLC (GSDS) and KH Holdings LLC alleging violations of the US Fair Labor Standards Act and violating US laws.

Castaneda said that KH Holdings has been properly served but that the attorney representing Al-Thani, Aryeh Kaplan, refused to accept the legal service to appear in court asserting that they did not represent Al-Thani’s interests or his company GSDS. Kaplan is a partner of the Miami, Florida law firm Partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

Kaplan has not responded to several requests for comment on the lawsuit.

In the lawsuit, Pittard and Allende alleged they were threatened at gunpoint by Al-Thani when they refused his orders in September 2017 to murder two unnamed Americans who Al-Thani suspected sullied his social reputation. The lawsuit further claimed Al-Thani’s threats against Pittard, a security professional, and Allende, a paramedic, continued to escalate.

When Al-Thani discovered that an American he had imprisoned at his luxury palace in Qatar had been freed by Pittard and Allende, he threatened Pittard saying, according to the lawsuit, “he would kill him, bury his body in the desert, and kill Pittard’s family.”

The unnamed American who was being held captive was first arrested on Al-Thani’s orders and jailed at the Onaiza Police Station in Doha, before being moved to Al-Thani’s residence.

Documents claim Allende scaled a five-foot security fence and an 18-foot wall to escape Al-Thani’s residential compound after he was allegedly threatened at gunpoint.

Brandishing a Glock 26 automatic pistol, Al-Thani demanded Pittard to return the freed unnamed American citizen and to provide information about his whereabouts or, Al-Thani told Pittard, he “would pay the price.”

Castaneda said the judge has issued a summons for Al-Thani ordering him to appear in court.

Although the lawsuit focuses on an employment dispute and the firings, it details the intimidation and threats that Sheikh Khaled Al-Thani allegedly made.